The latest task to be automated at convenience stores is making an item on the least-favorite list of chores more enjoyable: cleaning the floors.
Kum & Go has joined forces with ICE Cobotics and plans to use its automated cleaning device, Cobi 18, in over 400 locations to take manual scrubbing off the to-do lists for its retail associates, the companies said.
The robot cleaner, available for $15 a day with a 36-month subscription, currently is in use at five Kum & Go locations, and the convenience-store chain said it plans to expand the automated cleaner to eight more stores this month and 50 stores this year.
To get started with Cobi 18, a store associate maps out a cleaning route, then saves it in Cobi’s system. Once the route is stored, associates can deploy Cobi as often as needed by pressing a few buttons, said Cobotics, which is based in Hong Kong and has a U.S. headquarters in Zeeland, Michigan. The autonomous device doesn’t require special cleaning products—any floor cleaner should work, the company said.
Cobi 18 is capable of cleaning from 5,000 to 7,000 square feet in two hours, Cobotics said. By allowing the autonomous floor scrubber to handle the task, retail operators free up their store associates for other tasks better suited for humans, such as keeping customers happy and the shelves stocked. They can oversee the store’s cleanliness while being spared the manual tasks of mopping and scrubbing, which can lead to repetitive motion injuries. A spokesperson said Cobi will be used "as the replacement of choice for our current manual floor scrubbers in stores when they reach the end of their life."
ICE Cobotics described Cobi 18 as a cost-efficient option for keeping stores clean. Its subscription price of $16,000 for 36 months amounts to $15 a day for each cobot, a spokesperson said. According to its website, Cobotics’ subscription price includes equipment, customer support, repairs, replacement parts, software, training and shipping. It’s designed to limit unexpected costs and downtime. The company began in 2011 and offers a range of autonomous, intelligent floor-cleaning equipment.
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